On Wed. Sept. 23, Ventura County reviewed their COVID-19 status and plans to reopen school districts as positive case rates decline.
After six months of quarantine and stay at home orders, Ventura County has complied with all the state’s mandates to slow the spread of the virus.
The Ventura County Supervisor Board Chair, Kelly Long, started the press conference with a general update on the county’s progress within the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy initiative. Currently, Ventura County is at the most restrictive color tier and this prevents certain nonessential businesses from operating.
“We’re still at the purple tier and that’s unfortunate for us because we do want our restaurants to start serving indoors, we want schools to open up and we want more businesses to open up. But to do that, we have to have our rates in the red tier,” said Long.
The purple tier indicates that Ventura County is at a widespread risk level and the county strives to reach the less restrictive red tier. Long also urged residents to be diligent with preventative measures and social distancing as the flu and seasonal allergies approach in order to stay healthy.
Rigoberto Vargas, the director of the Ventura County Public Health Department, reviewed the county’s coronavirus statistics and metrics.
In order to qualify for the red tier, the county must have only seven cases over a seven day average per 100,000 people. As of Sept. 23, Ventura County is at 7.4 cases per 100,000 people.
“Ventura County, please continue to do all that you have been doing because it is making a difference,” said Vargas. “Comparing the overall case rate last week at 8.4 to 7.4 is great progress and so we will be meeting at the mark of seven [cases] very soon.”
With thirteen COVID-19 testing sites in Ventura County, Vargas encouraged all residents to take advantage of the free testing that the county provides. These testing centers do not require an appointment and residents will receive their results within 24-36 hours.
Vargas noted the overall decrease in positive case rates amongst all zip codes within the county. Additionally, he compared Ventura County with other Southern California counties based on their COVID-19 color tier. While Los Angeles County has the highest case fatality rate of 2.4%, Ventura County has one of the lowest case fatality rates of 1.2%.
Then Stan Mantooth, the superintendent for the Ventura County Office of Education, expressed his desire to return to in-person learning, especially for elementary school students.
“We want our campuses to reopen, but just like in the wildfires and the subsequent air quality issues, we don’t want to do it unless it is safe,” said Mantooth. “All of our districts do have plans to begin in-person instruction once the county gets into the red tier and can stay there for 14 days.”
However on Sept. 22, the Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD) announced that the 2021 spring semester will be online.
Mantooth discussed the proposed guidelines for in-person instruction. Schools will likely implement a hybrid learning model of both online and in-person schooling. Masks will also be required for all students from third grade and beyond.
Mantooth emphasized that all schools will adopt a small cohort model of 16 or less, including the instructor. In addition, all students and staff will be checked daily for COVID-19 symptoms.
For more information regarding Ventura County’s efforts against COVID-19, please visit the Ventura County Recovers website.